Immunogenicity and safety of fractional doses of 17D-213 yellow fever vaccine in children (YEFE): a randomised, double-blind, non-inferiority substudy of a phase 4 trial

Juan-Giner A, Namulwana ML, Kimathi D, Grantz KH, Fall G, Dia M, Bob NS, Sall AA, Nerima C, Sahani MK, Mulogo EM, Ampeire I, Hombach J, Nanjebe D, Mwanga-Amumpaire J, Cummings DAT, Bejon P, Warimwe GM, Grais RF
Lancet Infect Dis. 2023;

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BACKGROUND: Current supply shortages constrain yellow fever vaccination activities, particularly outbreak response. Although fractional doses of all WHO-prequalified yellow fever vaccines have been shown to be safe and immunogenic in a randomised controlled trial in adults, they have not been evaluated in a randomised controlled trial in young children (9-59 months old). We aimed to assess the immunogenicity and safety of fractional doses compared with standard doses of the WHO-prequalified 17D-213 vaccine in young children. METHODS: This substudy of the YEFE phase 4 study was conducted at the Epicentre Mbarara Research Centre (Mbarara, Uganda). Eligible children were aged 9-59 months without contraindications for vaccination, without history of previous yellow fever vaccination or infection and not requiring yellow fever vaccination for travelling. Participants were randomly assigned, using block randomisation, 1:1 to standard or fractional (one-fifth) dose of yellow fever vaccine. Investigators, participants, and laboratory personnel were blinded to group allocation. Participants were followed for immunogenicity and safety at 10 days, 28 days, and 1 year after vaccination. The primary outcome was non-inferiority in seroconversion (-10 percentage point margin) 28 days after vaccination measured by 50% plaque reduction neutralisation test (PRNT(50)) in the per-protocol population. Safety and seroconversion at 10 days and 12-16 months after vaccination (given COVID-19 resctrictions) were secondary outcomes. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02991495. FINDINGS: Between Feb 20, 2019, and Sept 9, 2019, 433 children were assessed, and 420 were randomly assigned to fractional dose (n=210) and to standard dose (n=210) 17D-213 vaccination. 28 days after vaccination, 202 (97%, 95% CI 95-99) of 207 participants in the fractional dose group and 191 (100%, 98-100) of 191 in the standard dose group seroconverted. The absolute difference in seroconversion between the study groups in the per-protocol population was -2 percentage points (95% CI -5 to 1). 154 (73%) of 210 participants in the fractional dose group and 168 (80%) of 210 in the standard dose group reported at least one adverse event 28 days after vaccination. At 10 days follow-up, seroconversion was lower in the fractional dose group than in the standard dose group. The most common adverse events were upper respiratory tract infections (n=221 [53%]), diarrhoea (n=68 [16%]), rhinorrhoea (n=49 [12%]), and conjunctivitis (n=28 [7%]). No difference was observed in incidence of adverse events and serious adverse events between study groups. CONCLUSIONS: Fractional doses of the 17D-213 vaccine were non-inferior to standard doses in inducing seroconversion 28 days after vaccination in children aged 9-59 months when assessed with PRNT(50), but we found fewer children seroconverted at 10 days. The results support consideration of the use of fractional dose of yellow fever vaccines in WHO recommendations for outbreak response in the event of a yellow fever vaccine shortage to include children. FUNDING: Médecins Sans Frontières Foundation.